An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics,
he inspired many 20th century scientists and philosophers. He is
credited with demonstrating the non-linear relationship between
psychological sensation and the physical intensity of a stimulus via the
formula: "S = K Log I.
Fechner's epoch-making work was his Elemente der Psychophysik (1860). He starts from the monistic
thought that bodily facts and conscious facts, though not reducible one
to the other, are different sides of one reality. His originality lies
in trying to discover an exact mathematical relation between them. The
most famous outcome of his inquiries is the law known as the Weber–Fechner law which may be expressed as follows:
In order that the intensity of a sensation may increase in
arithmetical progression, the stimulus must increase in geometrical
Fechner, along with Wilhelm Wundt and Hermann von Helmholtz, is recognized as one of the founders of modern experimental psychology.
His clearest contribution was the demonstration that because the mind
was susceptible to measurement and mathematical treatment, psychology
had the potential to become a quantified science. Theorists such as Immanuel Kant had long stated that this was impossible, and that therefore, a science of psychology was also impossible.
Fechner's world concept was highly animistic. He felt the thrill of
life everywhere, in plants, earth, stars, the total universe. Man stands
midway between the souls of plants and the souls of stars, who are
God, the soul of the universe, must be conceived as having an existence
analogous to men. Natural laws are just the modes of the unfolding of
God's perfection. Fechner's work in aesthetics
is also important. He conducted experiments to show that certain
abstract forms and proportions are naturally pleasing to our senses, and
gave some new illustrations of the working of aesthetic association.